Only two hours from Bangkok by car, Rayong City is a popular getaway destination amongst urban holidaymakers who prefer a more peaceful beach atmosphere than the nearby touristy Pattaya. Those who are continuing on to Koh Samet will also find Rayong City the perfect base, as it’s possible to do a bit of sightseeing and shopping before hopping on a speedboat or a ferry at Baan Pae.
Separated from Koh Samet by a 45-minute ferry ride, the city area feels like a world apart. It retains a pleasantly localised atmosphere, where you are more likely to bump into Thai families or groups of young university students than foreign tourists or backpackers. Young urbanites from Bangkok often drive out here to enjoy a great seafood meal or dig their toes into the soft white sand, before heading back with a lung full of clean fresh air.
Rayong City Attractions
A launching point for land and sea explorations with long distance bus terminals, ferry piers, food stalls and a lively handicrafts and seafood market, Baan Pae is a hive of activity. Laem Mae Pim, perhaps the second most popular destinations after Baan Pae, is an ideal spot for relaxation, with a lineup of beachside eateries and calm, inviting waters.
The causarina-fringed Had Suan Son, named as one of Thailand’s most picturesque beach roads, is another popular attraction just four km from Baan Pae. Other attractions further inland include Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Herbal Park, Sopha Arboretum and the Rayong Aquarium.
Rayong City Restaurants
Rayong is never short of mouthwatering seafood. In fact, dining is as much an experience for the eyes and ears as the palate, as many restaurants are situated by the beach, with an outdoor deck that juts right into the water. So, dining at these venues almost guarantees a great view. With a bustling seafood market, Baan Pae is one of the best places to go get a serving of freshly caught steamed crab, prawns and the all time favourite sea bass with lime ginger sauce. Finish off a satisfying meal the local style – with a plate of fresh tropical fruits.
Rayong City Nightlife
Rayong is more famous for its causarina-shaded beaches and translucent blue sea than as a nightlife hotspot. However that’s not to say that there’s none around; a one-km strip Ratbamrung Road, which runs parallel to the main Sukhumvit highway in the city centre, houses a large concentration of pubs, bars and nightclubs with stage shows and strip dancers.
For live concerts or DJs, head to Rayong Brewery located on the same street, closer to Rayong Hospital. Baan Pae also has a number of pubs, bars and karaoke lounges.
Rayong City Shopping
With a vast expanse of land devoted to fruit farming, Rayong is one of the best places from which to bring home tropical fruits, both fresh and otherwise, such as deep-fried durian chips, dried mangoes and preserved fruit candy. Baan Pae is the place to go for live or processed seafood and seashell souvenirs. For local handicrafts, handmade crystal ornaments and reed home décor products – mats, purses, handbags and hats – are the two specialty crafts of Rayong.
Rayong City Activities
More popular for it is lineup of beachside seafood restaurants and shady beaches than for water sports, Rayong beaches are peaceful and relatively free of large crowds. Marine excursions are limited to fishing, snorkelling and diving at nearby islands such as Koh Kruai, Koh Thalu, Koh Pla Tin and Koh Kham.
Island hopping is also an attractive option for those in search of a little adventure. Golfers will find a haven amongst Rayong’s range of well-designed courses, including the 72-par championship course at St. Andrews 2000 Golf and Country Club and Eastern Star Country Club.
Getting Around Rayong City
Well connected by an efficient network of buses and songtaews (passenger-carrying trucks), public transport is the best option if you don’t have a car. Within Rayong City, several lines of public buses operate between popular tourist destinations. These buses are colour-coded and most run from 06:00 to 18:00.
Ferries to Koh Samet depart from Baan Pae Pier on an hourly basis from 09:00 to 17:00 and drop tourists at major beaches, such as Sai Gaew, Ao Thaptim, Ao Phai, Ao Wong Duen and Ao Wai. The trip takes about 45 minutes, but if you take a chartered speedboat, it’s reduced to 15 minutes.